reprint: the Chicago Reader
When: Sat., May 17, 9:30 p.m.
3111 N. Western Ave. Roscoe Village
Saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and drummer Tom Rainey are not only married to each other but also play in several bands together, including Laubrock’s terrific quintet Anti-House and Rainey’s trio with guitarist Mary Halvorson. They’re both key figures in New York’s improvised-music community, with reputations as daring, aggressive players, so I was surprised at first that the vibe on their first duo recording, the all-improvised And Other Desert Towns (Relative Pitch), was so often subdued. To be sure, the couple sometimes whip up thrilling friction and energy—on “The Lemontown Riddles,” Laubrock launches fiery, corkscrewing alto lines as Rainey drops one fractured pattern after another—but by and large it’s a hushed, intimate affair. It’s as though they’ve developed such refined communication skills—both as musicians and, presumably, as people—that they don’t need to shout over each other. Though their interactions are restrained, they’re by no means simple or predictable: on the title track, Laubrock’s dry-toned soprano moves restlessly between jagged terseness and swinging fluidity, and Rainey alternates between delicate cymbal patter and kinetic tom-and-snare fireworks. The whole session feels conversational, and with only two players to listen to, it’s easier to get a sense of them as complete musicians, willing to give each other space and time even as they prod and cajole.
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